SuperSport United continued their strong start to the DStv Premiership season with a dramatic 2-1 win over Maritzburg United at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday evening.
Thatayaone Ditlhokwe was the unlikely hero late in the game as Matsatsantsa claimed a third league win and stayed just two points adrift of log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns. The Team of Choice, meanwhile, are ninth after a third loss of the campaign.
SuperSport were the dominant force early on and capitalised with a 10th minute goal, as Thamsanqa Gabuza scored with a fine downward header after getting up highest to meet Jamie Webber’s out-swinging corner kick delivery.
Maritzburg had their chances to get back on level terms through the first half, with the best seeing Amadou Soukouna test SuperSport goalkeeper Ronwen Williams with a well-struck free kick in the 33rd minute.
The hosts continued to look dangerous from set pieces, with Thatayaone Ditlhokwe threatening a goal with a looping header from another Webber corner kick on 35 minutes, but the ball drifted just over the crossbar.
The interval arrived with Matsatsantsa enjoying a 1-0 lead, though there had been little between the teams through the first 45 minutes.
The start of the second stanza saw the Team of Choice opt for a double change, as they introduced Lifa Hlongwane and Leletu Skelem off the bench in an attempt to get back into the game.
Ten minutes after the restart, the stadium lights failed and the match was suspended for approximately 20 minutes. Upon resumption, SuperSport made their first change by swapping out Moses Waiswa Ndhondi for Ghampani Lungu.
Maritzburg then levelled through substitute Hlongwane on 58 minutes, with the attacker stroking home a low shot after good set-up play from Soukouna. The goal scorer did appear to be well offside in a television replay, but the flag was not raised.
SuperSport looked to restore their lead and came close to a second goal in the 75th minute, as Teboho Mokoena struck a sweet effort direct from a free kick but the ball flashed just over the crossbar – with Maritzburg goalkeeper Marcel Engelhardt left rooted to the spot.
Maritzburg also had late chances, with SuperSport’s Ditlhokwe making a key interception on 84 minutes to stymie a breakaway effort involving Soukouna and Hlongwane, while the subsequent corner kick was headed off target by Alfred Ndengane.
The match looked set to end in a draw, but SuperSport claimed a dramatic winner deep into injury time when a Sipho Mbule corner kick found Ditlhokwe, who powered a header past a stranded Engelhardt to secure a 2-1 triumph with the last touch of the ball in the game.
The teams will return to DStv Premiership action next weekend, with SuperSport away to Chippa United on Saturday 2 October and Maritzburg visiting Royal AM the following day.
SuperSport United (1) 2 (Gabuza 10’, Ditlhokwe 90+3’)
Maritzburg United (0) 1 (L. Hlongwane 58’)
SUPERSPORT: Williams, Nhlapo, Mkhwanazi, Ditlhokwe, Bhasera, Webber (Manziba 85’), Donn, Mokoena, Rayners (Mbule 75’), Ndhondhi (Lungu 56’), Gabuza
MARITZBURG: Engelhardt, Allie, Ndengane, Ismail, Theron, Claasen, Kewuti, Rae, Zondi (Skelem 46’ [Human 82’]), Soukouna, Zumah (L. Hlongwane 46’)© AFP